Organized trip to Yunnan: 12 days in China with driver and guide

Organized trip to Yunnan: Discover the most authentic and diverse province in China

If you are looking for an organized trip to Yunnan, you are in the right place. On Lonely Planet, the world’s most famous travel guide, there’s a section that says, If you want to go to China, but only have time to see one province, that should definitely be Yunnan.” (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & the Greater Mekong – Lonely Planet)

Traveling in China can be complicated by the language barrier so the route includes an experienced guide who has lived in Yunnan for years and will make your trip much easier. 

Viaje a Yunnan - Ciudad antigua de Dali

Organized trip to Yunnan: What goals did we set for ourselves during our 12-day tour of Yunnan?

During these 12 day trip to Yunnan the objectives we set ourselves will be: 

  • Get to know the different ethnic minorities in Yunnan, their customs and way of life.
  • Visit mountain villages that have remained the same for over a hundred years.
  • Visit villages that have managed to preserve ancient Chinese architecture.
  • Walk among millenary rice terraces and enjoy the peace that surrounds them.
  • Discover the highest river canyons in the world.
  • Enjoy the beautiful temples and the varied parks of Yunnan.
  • Taste the local gastronomy and get to know the Chinese culture.

Itinerary of the organized trip to Yunnan: Route Map

Organized trip to Yunnan: Route Map

Organized trip to Yunnan – Itinerary through Yunnan:

The following is a step-by-step account of the 12-day route through Yunnan, where we will see incredible places but also live unique experiences. Here is the map of where each place is located and, below, the list with the description of each place and pictures, enjoy!

Day 1: Kunming, “The Spring City”

Kunming: The capital of Yunnan is known as “The Spring City” for its good climate. It is 1800m above sea level. We will visit Yuantong Temple, the largest temple in Kunming, and Green Lake, the lake in the center of the city to see the traditional dances of Yunnan. Overnight in Kunming.

Day 2 & 3: Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces: Visit to one of the best rice fields in all of China. Yuanyang it is 320 km far from Kunming. Accommodation in Xinjie. The first day we will visit the rice terraces of Bada and Duoyishu, one of the most famous. The second day we will make a route between rice terraces and villages in the area and see the famous viewpoint of Laohuzui.

Day 4 & 5: Jianshui

From the terraces of Yuanyang we will go to Jianshui at 110Km from Xinjie. On the way we will stop to see the Double Dragon Bridge (Shuang Long Qiao) built during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century and visit TuanShan, a very well preserved ancient village 13Km from Jianshui. We will stay in Jianshui.

The second day in Jianshui we will see the old part of Jianshui, the Temple of Confucius and the main wall similar to the one you can find in the Forbidden City of Beijing. Then on the third day in the morning we will go to Dali.

Day 6 & 7: Dali Old Town

Dali: One of Yunnan’s most famous cities for its old town. On the first day we will visit the old town which is surrounded by walls and has managed to preserve the traditional architecture of the Bai ethnic minority. On the second day we will take a tour of Lake Erhai, one of the largest lakes in China. We will stop at different fishing villages and visit the Three Dali Pagodas. At 320 Km from Kunming. The two days we will stay in the ancient part of Dali.

Day 8: Shaxi

Shaxi: Two hours from Dali is this quiet village historically known as a tea and horse trading centre. We will visit Shibao Mountain, home to some of the most important stone carvings in China. Shaxi, still away from tourism, is perfect for immersing yourself in the China of dynasties and emperors. It is 150km from Dali. Accommodation in the old town of Shaxi.

Day 9 & 10: Tiger Leaping Gorge & Shangrila

Visit to Tiger Leaping Gorge, the highest river canyons in the world, passing through Shigu village. In Shigu we can enjoy the spectacular views of the Yangse River. Then we will continue to Shangrila.

At an altitude of 3300m, Shangrila is the capital of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The majority of the inhabitants are ethnic Tibetans and both the architecture of the houses and the temples are Tibetan style. Just arriving here will make you feel like you are in Tibet itself. In Shangrila, we will know the ancient part and its surroundings, full of Tibetan temples and abundant nature. 220km from Shaxi. Accommodation in the ancient part of Shangrila.

Day 11: Lijiang Ancient City

Lijiang is possibly the most charming village in Yunnan but also the most touristic. Stone bridges, streams, cobbled streets and houses of traditional Chinese architecture make it still worth a visit. We will get to know the Naxi culture, the ethnic minority from Tibet and currently the largest in the area. The old part of Lijiang was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. 180Km from Shangrila. Lodging in the old part of Lijiang.

Day 12: Kunming

Free morning in Lijiang. Going back to Kunming. Farewell dinner in Kunming. Next day our driver will take us to the airport.

Services included in the trip to Yunnan

To make your trip around Yunnan easier, the price of the route we offer is almost all included:

  1. 12 days of hotel.
  2. Breakfast at the hotels.
  3. Private Spanish-speaking guide for the entire trip.
  4. Car with private driver for the whole trip.
  5. Tickets to temples and parks.
  6. Travel insurance. (5% discount on your Mondo travel insurance)
  7. Plane ticket. (option to buy it yourself if you prefer it)
  8. Visa processing for China – New! No visa fee is required for a 15-day stay! For citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia, from December 2023 to November 30, 2024, ordinary passport holders of these countries will be able to do business or travel to China without a visa for up to 15 days.

Services not included in the trip to Yunnan

  1. Lunches and dinners (We have not included it to give more flexibility to the travelers to choose want they want day by day. It’s difficult to spend more than 10-20 euros a day per person. If you want, we can include the food in the total price.)

Organized Trip to Yunnan: Travel as a couple, with friends or in a group

You can choose to travel to Yunnan as a couple, with friends or in an organized group. If you prefer to travel as a couple or with friends, we can organize a trip to Yunnan during any time of the year. However, if you choose to travel in an organized group, we have divided the travel groups into fortnights. The groups are minimum of 2 people and maximum of 5.

  1. First half of July
  2. Second half of July
  3. First half of August
  4. Second half of August
  5. First half of September

Frequently asked questions about our 12-day route to Yunnan

  1. From Madrid to Kunming or from Barcelona to Kunming, a return flight ticket usually costs between 600 – 1200 euros.
  2. Most hostels are 3 or 4 starts. We have looked for accommodation that combine a modern style with the traditional style of each place we are going. Therefore, we will be able to enjoy the essence of each place and, at the same time, have all the amenities at hand. You can contact us so that we can send an example of the list of our hotels.
  3. Breakfast is included at all hotels. It can be free buffet or a la carte choice. In almost all hotels you can choose between western or eastern breakfast.
  4. The best time to visit a water- filled rice terraces in Yunnan is between December and February. In Yunnan, the weather is usually good throughout most of the year, but if you come in the summer, during the rainy season, it is possible that rains.
  5. Our drivers are Chinese and our guides are English/Chinese speakers with experience and residents in Yunnan for years.
  6. In total, you need 14 days of vacation: the day of the trip to China, 12 days of travel through Yunnan, and the day of return home. A personalize shorter route it is also available.

Price of the 12 day trip to Yunnan

The price of the trip varies according to the people who come on the trip. The more people who sign up, the cheaper it is:

  • 2 Persons: 2000 euros per person + Airline ticket
  • 3 Persons: 1750 euros per person + Airline ticket
  • 4 Persons: 1600 euros per person + Airline ticket
  • 5 Persons: 1450 euros per person + Airline ticket
Organized trip to Yunnan - JianShui


  1. The maximum altitude of the area involved in the activity is 3160. Although no physically strenuous activities will be done, the altitude may cause dizziness, headache, higher than normal fatigue, lack of appetite.
  2. During winter, the lowest (night) temperature in the area of the activity is around 0 degrees and can reach 5 degrees below zero in Shangri-La. Please, wear warm clothes.
  3. When entering the minority areas, please obey the customs of ethnic minorities; respect all local customs and cultures.
  4. Considering the safety of this activity, the travel agency and the tour guide will not be legally or financially responsible for all consequences caused by accidents and injuries due to personal factors and natural factors during the activity.
  5. Strictly protect the environment and remove the garbage. It is prohibited to place commemorative signs and other items in the area of the activity. Wild animals and plants will be protected and will not be killed or destroyed.
  6. Due to the environment, conditions, if there is any dissatisfaction with food, housing, transportation, please understand that this is an adventure trip.
  7. Take good care of public property. If there is any damage caused by you, you will compensate according to the degree of damage.
  8. The tour leader has the right to adjust the content and schedule of the activity, according to the progress of the activity, weather conditions and other factors.

Important note: There are risks in any type of exercise. In case of illness, injury or death during exercise, we will help you seek medical treatment and follow-up with insurance immediately. Our company and the third party will not make any compensation.

More information or contact me

Feel free to check out the blog for more information on each city. Also, here I talk about the 8 best places to visit if you are coming to Yunnan. You may also be interested in our other route in the south of Yunnan focused on nature. Take a look at the two itineraries to see which one you like the most.

If you decide to take a trip to China and visit Yunnan, you can contact us ( for any questions you may have about our organized trip to Yunnan, specify the method of payment and tell us what dates you would like to come on the trip.

Attention: The restrictions for Covid-19 in China are over, so we are back to organizing routes through Yunnan. And from December 2023 to November 2024, no visa fee is required to stay in China for a 15-day trip! 

We don’t travel to escape life, we travel so that life doesn’t escape us.

Yunnan organized tour - Yuanyang rice terraces

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